Funding competition NHS Test Beds: NHS organisation expression of interest

NHS organisations can express an interest in leading collaborations with businesses to apply ‘combinatorial’ innovations to health and care challenges.

This competition is now closed.

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Competition sections


Innovate UK is to invest up to £4.5 million on behalf of the Office for Life Sciences (OLS), a joint unit between the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. This is in projects that integrate new product and service innovations. These projects must produce significant health improvements at the same or less cost than existing practice.

An additional £1.5 million is available from NHS England. This is specifically for projects that integrate digital approaches to self-management education and support for people with type 2 diabetes.

This is the first stage of the competition and is calling for expressions of interest (EoI). By entering you state that you are willing to lead a project in partnership with other organisations.

The EoI part of this competition has 2 strands. This is the strand for NHS England organisations or partnerships who want to lead a consortium. The other strand is for businesses.
To apply you must be an NHS England organisation or partnership with a clearly defined health and care challenge that is in line with national NHS and life sciences priorities.

If your proposal is selected, you will be invited to attend a collaboration workshop between 9 and 13 April 2018 to help you meet and select your partners. Once your consortium is formed, you will be invited to submit a detailed application to the full Test Beds competition.

Funding type


Project size

Eligible project costs can range from £500,000 to £1.5 million. Projects outside this range will be considered but would require justification. Projects must start on 1 October 2018 and last no longer than 18 months.

Who can apply

To be eligible for funding you must:

  • be an NHS England organisation or NHS England partnership
  • choose a clearly defined health and care challenge that the NHS is currently experiencing and can be explored through digital products
  • be prepared to lead a consortium testing digital products to a defined challenge
NHS organisations from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland cannot lead but can be partners within a consortium.
Be advised that this programme is not a procurement process. There is no commitment from NHS England or the NHS in general, to buy any product involved in the programme. The opportunity is for businesses to use the real-world setting of the NHS to test their products at scale, potentially improving their usability and quality. This benefits the NHS, by giving real-world examples of how to use digital health technologies and innovations to change care pathways and processes.


NHS England organisations will receive 100% funding of their eligible project costs.

Your proposal

This strand of the Test Beds competition is for NHS England organisations or NHS England partnerships. The aim is to identify NHS England organisations:

  • with a clearly defined health and care challenge, whether clinical or system-wide
  • that are willing to lead a consortium to test ‘combinatorial’ innovations that could address their challenge

Your project must produce significant health improvements at the same cost as existing practice, or at a lower cost.

This is an expression of interest (EoI) competition. If your proposal is within scope, you will be able to submit the full version to the full competition at a later date, once you have formed a consortium.

You must describe the specific health and care challenge area your solution is designed for, such as a ready for market solution in diabetes. To be selected for the next stage:

  • your challenge area must match one of the NHS challenges
  • your solution must be ready for market

The next stage will be a written application.

Your proposal should include:

  • details about your organisation
  • a clear explanation of the health and care challenge you propose to address, whether clinical or system-wide, and why
  • details of any partnerships you are already working in

We will only fund projects that meet the priorities given by NHS England in its 5 Year Forward View and recent Next Steps publication.

Your project must:

  • save significant costs, improve quality of care or improve the service
  • demonstrate strong leadership and commitment to the core tenets of the Test Beds programme
  • demonstrate that you can share data, including any necessary information governance agreements, with all consortium members
  • commit to conducting real-word demonstrations of ‘combinatorial’ innovations in live clinical settings
  • include products which are market-ready

Your innovation must be ‘combinatorial’. By this we mean new combinations of products and processes.

Projects we will not fund

We will not fund projects that:

  • are at proof of concept or feasibility testing
  • include products which are not market-ready
  • focus on health and care challenges not in line with NHS England’s and the government’s priorities
  • feature medical technologies, devices and diagnostics without a digital element

26 February 2018
Competition opens
9 March 2018
Webinar briefing event.
20 March 2018
Overall Wave 2 Test Beds event in London.
27 March 2018 12:00pm
Competition closes
12 April 2018 4:18pm
Applicants notified

Before you start

When you start an application you will be prompted to create an account or sign in as a representative of your organisation. You will need an account to track the progress of your application.

You will be responsible for:

  • collecting the information for your application
  • representing your organisation during the creation of your EoI

You will be able to invite colleagues to contribute to the application. Your organisation will lead the project if your application is successful.

Innovate UK has been working with the NHS to fix the problems NHS applicants have been experiencing in the Innovation Funding Service (IFS) system when using their NHS email address.

Innovate UK emails are now being accepted by the NHS when entering this expression of interest stage. Make sure you use your ****** email address. No other NHS email address will be accepted.

What we will ask you

The application is split into 2 sections:

  1. Application details
  2. Application questions

1. Application details

Explain your health and care challenge and whether this is a clinical or system-wide challenge. This will help us decide whether the proposal fits with the scope of the competition. If it does not, it will be immediately rejected.

Proposal summary

Describe your challenge briefly. If you are interested in pursuing a challenge around self-management of diabetes, please state that here.

Proposal scope

Describe how your solution fits the scope of the competition. If your proposal is not in scope it will not be eligible for funding.

2. Application questions

Your answer to each question can be up to 400 words long.

Question 1: Your organisation
Tell us:

  • what your organisation type is (NHS Trust, primary care, CCG or, partnership)
  • how large your organisation is
  • who will lead on the project
  • who else will be involved in the project, and give their roles, skills and experience

This question is for information only and not scored.

Answers to the following questions are assessed by representatives from the Office for Life Sciences (OLS), NHS England (NHSE) and Innovate UK.

Question 2: What health and care challenge are you looking to address?

What is your health or care challenge area? Why have you chosen this challenge?

You should describe or explain:

  • your health or care challenge area
  • the main motivation behind your proposed Test Beds
  • how you are equipped to address challenges in this area
  • why have you selected it and what you propose to do to address it
  • what type of products you are looking for to help address your challenge

Question 3: Partnerships

Which, if any, external partners have you been working with over the past few years and what value have you gained from partnering with them?

You should describe or explain:

  • what projects you have been working on, and with whom
  • how successful your projects were, and what you learnt from them
  • what benefits you have gained from making these collaborations
  • details of any other government funded programmes you have participated in or applied for

Background and further information

The NHS Test Beds programme is jointly funded and delivered by NHS England and the Office for Life Sciences, a joint unit between the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The programme aims to:

  • help innovators work with the National Health Service (NHS)
  • test ‘combinatorial’ innovation in products and processes in the real-world setting of the NHS
  • improve patient outcomes and experience of care at the same cost as, or at a lower cost than, current practice, while helping the economy grow

This is the second round of the Test Beds programme. For information on the first round, please visit the NHS England website.

This round will provide an opportunity to create new Test Beds, to tackle the biggest health and care challenges faced by the NHS. It will build on the original principles of the programme by testing market-ready innovations in real-world settings and at scale. It will encourage the redesign of clinical pathways to apply new technology when working directly with patients.

If you need more information, contact the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357 or email us at

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